ATHE Level 5 Extended Diploma in Computing (Software Engineer) (2024)

IntroductionEntry CriteriaQualification Content

The Level 5 Extended Diploma in Computing (Software Engineer) (120-credit) builds on the Computing foundation offered by the Diploma and offers learners access to pathway learning for role-based occupational development. The Extended Diploma offers a blended learning approach with the core, generic computer management units offering a context for the study of the optional technical units.
Unit 17’s synoptic project is the culmination of the qualification requiring learners to synthesise what they have learnt across the qualification. 

This is a core qualification available to existing and interested centres of ATHE.

Graded with Pass, Merit and Distinction.
Advanced learner loans available in the UK – to check if funding is available see the latest Qualification Catalogue here.
For the progression routes visit our progression routes page.

Delivery Mode
This qualification can be delivered either in the classroom, via distance learning or blended, part-time or full-time.

Qualification Specification
To view the specification, please click here.

Typical Age

This qualification is designed for learners who are typically aged 18 and above.


For learners who have recently been in education or training the entry profile is likely to include one of the following:

  • prior study in computing or related subjects at level 4 or above
  • a Level 4 qualification, for example, an ATHE Level 4 Diploma/Extended Diploma in Computing
  • other equivalent international qualifications


For those whom English is not their first language we recommend the following standards of proficiency in English language skills or an approved equivalent for this qualification:

  • IELTs 5.5
  • Common European Framework of Reference (CEFR) B2
  • Cambridge English Advanced (CAE) 162 or above
  • Pearson Test of English (PTE) Academic 42-49

Learner must complete four mandatory units, plus 3 optional units and unit 17 Advanced Project, totalling 120 credits.

Unit NameUnit AimsCreditsMandatory
Computing Projects for Digital TransformationThis unit enables learners to begin to think about how digital transformation may benefit their organisation, their job role, or the day-to-day activities within their organisation or their team.  This understanding should be pathway neutral as learners at Level 5 will be expected to understand and contribute to plans for a digital transformation, regardless of their role.15Yes
Professional Development and Business CommunicationThis unit builds on the professional practice content first introduced in Level 4’s Unit 21 (Synoptic Project and Professional Best Practice) where learners considered team behaviours that contribute to effective working, written and oral communication and wider considerations such as ethical practice and an understanding of relevant legislation.
Because the IT industry is fast moving, practitioners should understand that working in this sector will necessitate continuous professional development (CPD), often including the updating of technical skills as well as the development of professional skills as practitioners are promoted.
Technologies and Connected Devices
This unit aims to equip you with an e understanding of innovative technologies like AI, IoT, Blockchain, AR, VR, and the world of connected devices. You will explore their applications, understand their working principles, and learn about their implementation and ethical challenges.  This knowledge and skill set will prepare you to navigate the ever-evolving digital landscape.15Yes
Information SystemsThis unit enables learners to examine a wide range of information systems that they will find in industry.

When working in industry, IT practitioners must be able to see the bigger picture, drawing on all of their knowledge and previous experiences to find the best and most viable solutions to the problem.  This is particularly important when working with non-technical managers who may not understand the technologies that they need to be able to perform their role.  Practitioners must be able to share their knowledge and understanding in an appropriate way to promote the use of data and information systems to support modern business and enterprise.
Advanced ProgrammingThis unit enables learners to focus on the popular Object-Oriented paradigm and associated SOLID principles as exemplified in programming languages such as Java, C++, C# and Python.
It includes a strong promotion of the DevSecOps practice; the notion of security being “shifted to the left” to avoid costly baked-in bugs, encouraging a shared responsibility through the software’s lifecycle and its quality assurance processes.  
Furthermore, it encourages learners to consider modern approaches (and tooling) used when products are designed, written, and then deployed at scale in potentially costly (and high-profile) software engineering projects..
Client and Server Technologies
This unit enables learners to understand how data can be transmitted between different client and server technologies in both unsecured and secured states.
UDP and TCP based connections are the very heart of the transport layer of the ISO OSI 7-layer model, providing a way for commercial applications to transfer data between a range of client and server-oriented technologies.
Although not intended as a networking unit as such, any aspiring software developer should have both an appreciation and technical understanding of the processes required to achieve this type of application connectivity in a commercially oriented programming language.
Virtualisation and Cloud ComputingThis unit enables learners to understand how digital transformation using virtualisation and cloud computing can solve many issues experienced by organisations which need to operate efficiently and cost effectively in a rapidly changing world.
This unit places additional focus on the impact of these technologies, and on the development, deployment and testing aspects of the software development discipline.
Cloud Native SolutionsThis unit enables learners to understand how digital transformation is facilitated through the use of cloud native solutions, an approach which incorporates the building and running of applications that fully leverages the advantages of a cloud computing platform.
It also provides learners with knowledge and experience in designing and building cloud-native applications that are cost-effective, automated, scalable, and resilient. This is achieved using modern DevOps tools, design applications, microservice architectures, and the deployment of containerised applications to cloud platforms using cloud-native best practices. Note: learners would benefit if they have studied the Cloud Computing unit prior to this unit.
Penetration Testing and Ethical HackingThis unit aims to teach the learner to understand the role of ethical hacking and the types of penetration testing (“pen testing”) used in the development of secure systems.  Learners who aspire to the pen testing/ethical hacking role will need to understand a range of pen testing tools and be able to explain their role with respect to adversarial behaviours and to malware and attack technologies. Learners will need to be capable of planning, performing, and reporting on a pen test for a given scenario.
Learners should appreciate that successful hacking is largely down to the skills of the hacker (analytical skills, problem solving skills, understanding of networks, computer systems and programming) than their respective equipment/tools and methodologies.
Advanced ProjectThis unit is designed to enable learners from any pathway to resolve a business problem or show how a business opportunity could be pursued using appropriate tools and technologies. The project should be a suitable match to their study pathway and should make use of the knowledge and skills gained when studying the other units making up their qualification.15Yes